We are pleased to introduce our new Chief Executive Officer, Grady W. (Skip) Philips, III. Philips has been a driving force in the Winchester community for the last 9 years, most recently serving as the President of Valley Health’s Winchester Medical Center and Sr. Vice President for Acute Care for Valley Health.
Philips grew up in a small textile town in northeast Georgia, raised primarily by his mother and a supportive extended family. Both Philips’ grandfather and mother were major influences in his life, and he cites their own health challenges as motivators for him to enter the health care field. An aspiring doctor, Philips became the second person in his family to attend college, graduating from Emory University with bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and history.
Although Philips initially planned on continuing to medical school, he shifted his sights to healthcare administration. After earning a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Health Care Administration from Georgia State University, Philips moved to Virginia with his wife, Cathy, for his residency program with the Riverside Health System.
“The plan in coming up here was that we would spend nine months in Newport News and go back to Georgia,” he said. But life had other plans for them.
A New Beginning
Soon after Philips finished his administrative residency, he was selected to serve as the VP/Administrator and chief executive at Riverside Rehabilitation Institute – the same facility where his wife worked.
“She loved working with the physical rehab population” as a clinical social worker, Philips said. But upon receiving his offer for the CEO position, he realized his wife would need to change roles as well. She wound up switching to a social work role supporting individuals on dialysis and Philips served as the CEO of the 75-bed rehabilitation facility for three years.
Philips continued his career within the Riverside Health System serving as the Chief Executive Officer of Riverside Walter Reed Hospital, the Chief Operating Officer of the long-term care division, the Chief Executive Officer of the continuing care division, and finally the Senior Vice President of Operations for Riverside Regional Medical Center. During his tenure with Riverside Health System, the couple’s three children were born: Stephen (31), Christopher (29) and Erin (25). Christopher had a particularly difficult birth, resulting in significant disabilities.
“We didn’t know he was deaf until he was about 16 months old. The challenges from his birth history came with it some expectations of development delays,” Philips explained. “We all learned sign language. Erin’s first words were actually in sign language.”
Despite the challenges that came along with Christopher’s disabilities, the Philips family stayed busy. Throughout his early healthcare career, Skip and Cathy were active in their kids developmental years. Cathy helped to keep the family organized and maintained the schedules including Christopher’s therapy, IEP’s and other meetings. In 2006, the family moved to Warner Robins, Georgia, where Philips joined the Houston Healthcare organization. He served in several administrative positions at Houston Medical Center and within Houston Healthcare as a whole, including Chief Operating Officer and Chief Executive Officer.
Outside of work, Philips focused on his family, both immediate and extended. All three kids played soccer, often with Skip coaching.
“When all three of them were playing at the same time in 3 different leagues, it made life interesting,’ he laughed. Philips and his wife also got involved in disability advocacy pushing for improved services for Christopher and others with disabilities.
Returning to Virginia
They later moved to southern Virginia when Philips joined LifePoint Hospitals where Philips became the Chief Executive Officer of Memorial Hospital of Martinsville and Henry County. After three years and a half years with LifePoint, the Philips family looked to move to the Shenandoah Valley for Philips’ role as the SVP for Valley Health and Chief Operating Officer of Winchester Medical Center. He quickly became a part of the Winchester community, getting involved with community organizations such as the Sinclair Health Clinic and the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. During his time at Winchester Medical Center, Philips oversaw the transition from a large community hospital to a tertiary referral center and safety net hospital for the broader region. The hospital expanded its program and services, including a comprehensive cancer center and a new surgery center on the campus.
Philips was also instrumental in bringing the disability employment internship program ProjectSEARCH to the Northern Shenandoah Valley. He viewed the program as a way to expand disability inclusion both inside the hospital and beyond.
“When you look at what makes a community strong, communities are made up by the individuals who live there, whether by choice or by circumstance. As businesses, we can choose to make a more inclusive community or more exclusive. Typically, when a community is more inclusive, the fabric is stronger,” he said. “The impact [ProjectSEARCH graduates] have had on others in the community has been enormous. They’ve blossomed and been tremendously successful.”
Leading Through Connections
These types of community collaborations are common in Philips’ career. He believes it’s his role as a leader to piece together different people’s skills and interests to further a common goal.
“The job is a job, and you have a title, but at the end of the day the value you create has more to do with the impact you have on people, the people who you influence and who influence you,” Philips said.
The influential mentality is one he plans to bring to NW Works, through supporting staff development and improving the services offered. Philips is looking forward to working with the staff, the leadership team and the Board of Directors to better serve the organization’s clients.
“Everybody has value and brings something to the table. Part of my role as a leader is to figure out what that [is] and to help bring out the best in others” he said.
When he’s not working, Philips prioritizes spending time with his family. His oldest son, Stephen, is currently pursuing a nursing degree, while Christopher works in retail. His daughter, Erin, recently graduated from VCU/Brand Center with a Master’s in Business and Branding with a focus in Experience Design and is now working in Oregon. Although those in the Philips family have pursued different careers, they all seem to focus on a similar value: “Being able to make a difference in the lives of others.”
Skip is honored to be joining NW Works in this season. He is excited to lead the organization in furthering its impact on clients, families and our community, as well as in advocating and advancing employment and independence for individuals with disabilities.